Life, Love, & Giving

Finally posting my final post for #itsaboutgiving for Compassion International.

I only recently started blogging with Compassion, the #itsaboutgiving was my first assignment.  The goal of this campaign was to raise $20,000 for children in need around the world.  As of December 17, we (all Compassion bloggers) had only raised $532.

Our final assignment is to raise $100 for children in poverty.

That’s really not a lot.  10 people giving $10.  5 people giving $20.  1 person giving $100.  100 people giving $1.  There’s a lot of ways to break it down, but it’s really not a lot of money for one person.

If you are like me, you probably have a lot of different ministries, charities, and other groups on your radar.  This time of the year, my Facebook feed looks like a giant list of needs that need to met, money needing to be raised, and a reminder of how much need exists in our world today.  Simply overwhelms me at times.

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to give back.  It’s on pretty much everyone’s mind.  But the need for some remains throughout the year.

Compassion serves children — many of whom do not have parents or they have parents who are unable to provide their most basic of needs — water, food, shelter, and schooling. Compassion steps in, through amazing, generous people who give, to stand in the gap for these beautiful children.

They live in places where Christmas is another day to scavenge for food, not feast.  A day to walk miles and miles to find water, often times contaminated and dirty.  There is no tree.  There is no rushing to open presents, because there are no presents.

When you give through the Gift Catalog, local partner churches in these countries are able to personally hand these children a gift, one that will meet their needs and to share the love of Jesus with these children.

It’s not too late to give.  Can you give just $10 today to help these children?  Be a part of the solution, stand in the gap for these children and help meet a desperate need.

You are the solution.  Each of us has a part to play in this bigger picture of the world.  What is your part?

God bless you, dear readers, as we finish 2012 and look forward to beginning 2013.

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Known — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 9, Day 7: Known from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Psalm 139:1–6

I chose this topic to continue my posts because I think it’s powerful.

Do you ever feel like you wear a lot of different “hats” in life?  Work/career, family, friends, church…

I know that I do.  My “hats” change from time to time, but there is always a lot of them!

Throughout my life, I (like probably everyone else in the world and throughout history!) wanted people to like me.  To be successful.  And smart.  And funny.  Beautiful.  And so many times, I haven’t felt that I was these things.

I felt like I couldn’t be myself, that I needed to be more like someone else.  There were times when these feelings really began to feel like truth in my heart.

When I was about seventeen, almost eighteen, I met this guy.  He was pretty cute, seemed nice enough.  And he liked me.

Well, I hadn’t dated very much and really felt like I was not going to find anyone who really liked me just because of me.  (Oh, if I only knew then what I know now!)

Shortly after meeting him, I told my parents about him.  I am from a small town and my dad actually knew his step-dad.  About a week or so into our dating, his step-father called my dad and cautioned him that I should not date him.  In all my infinite wisdom, I simply felt like no one wanted me to be happy, that his step-dad must have it out for him and is trying to sabotage this for me.

As teens can be, it’s all about us, right?  Adults don’t know anything.

Well, one evening I was visiting him at his home, watching movies and having dinner.  Quiet night at home.  It was winter, shortly before my birthday.  That night I had asked him if he would come to my party and he agreed.  My heart was full, as only a seventeen year old girl’s can be at the simple thought of a birthday date.

Then his friends arrived, unexpectedly.  He asked me to go into his bedroom and wait in there.

I had no idea why, but I went.  I sat in there, listening to him talk to his friends.  Wanting to leave, but he had made it clear that he did not want me to come out under any circumstance.

I could hear their conversation and he began to talk — suddenly his words struck my heart. He was making fun of me.  He was ashamed and embarrassed of me.

Humiliated.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Wanting to run away, but feeling so trapped.  I couldn’t leave, I couldn’t stay.  Each word was like a knife to my heart.  All of the things that I thought were unlovable about myself were being validated.

Finally they left, he came to the door and said that I was free to come back out and finish the movie.  No apologies, no embarrassment for his words, just statements.

I left.  And I never seen him again.  But his words, they stayed with me.

My heart was broken.  I, of course, broke up with him and told my friends that I just wasn’t interested anymore.  I couldn’t utter what had happened.  I couldn’t tell them what he had said.  And I thought every guy after him probably thought of me like he did.

Many years later, after a lot of hurt — a lot of mistakes and bad choices, I learned real truth.  I learned what God thinks of me.  I have forgiven that guy (in truth, I can’t even remember his name — only his words and what his room looked like that night.) and I no longer think that all men are like him.

My identity is in Christ.  I don’t hide anything from Him.  I don’t have any secrets with Him.  I can be me.  All the time!  It’s freedom!  I can tell him my fears, my doubts, my brokenness with no fear of being shamed or ridiculed.  Only forgiveness and love.

While I still prefer people to like me, it doesn’t make me doubt my worth if they don’t.  If I fail, I am disappointed — but I know that I am not a failure.  I would like to think that I wouldn’t have stayed in that room if I knew then what I know now.  That I would have never even gone in that room.

To be known by God, as only He can know us is life altering.  He knows your heart, your thoughts, you can’t hide anything from Him.  And there is so much freedom in giving that to Him, in accepting His amazing love and the freedom that brings.

{Not my creation, I found it on Pinterest}

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Advocate — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

 

Check out: John 14:16–21

I chose this topic to continue my posts because of my career, advocate is a word that I am  very familiar with and I thought it would be great to connect it with Jesus and living second.

My previous job title:  Advocate.

I think of all the names of God:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, Bright Morning Star.  I don’t usually think of Advocate.

As I read through today’s devotion, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this connection before.  It became so clear to me, that the Holy Spirit is EXACTLY that…our Advocate.  Wow.

In the social work world, especially when dealing with court stuff, you will hear the term advocate.  I served as a CASA/GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem).  I served as a Shelter Advocate.  A Transitional Housing Advocate.  A Life Skills Advocate.  (You can see why I connected with this word!)

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “For those who call God their God, he grants an advocate, a lawyer who stands guard over our case, who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?

“For those who call God their God.”  This is a special gift from God to His children!  In the CASA program or at the shelter, our advocating was a gift to those who were our clients.  We didn’t advocate for everyone, just “our own.”  But all you really had to do was meet our criteria and ask.  It’s the same.  God’s criteria:  call Him your God (and all that goes with that too!).

“He grants an advocate.”  You don’t have to pay for an advocate.  They are gifts, granted to you.

“A lawyer who stands guard over our case.”  Think of lawyers for a minute.  An attorney who accepts a case, stands up for you — regardless of fault.  They fight for you.  They stand guard over your case.  They talk for you, when you can’t talk for yourself.  They are willing to jump into the mess you are in to help you.  An advocate is exactly like that, minus any financial gain.  They are willing to do it because they believe in you!  Because they care for you!  With nothing to gain for themselves.  They stand guard, they speak up.

“Who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  This is the most critical piece.  Our time of need.  When do we get attorneys?  When we are in need.  Why was I appointed as a CASA?  Because the child had a need.  As a shelter advocate, my clients were homeless and victims of domestic violence.  They had need. Advocates come when there is need.  When we can’t do it on our own.  They hold our hand, they speak words we cannot speak for ourselves.  They give us a voice again.  They give us strength to carry on through our need.

In my work, I often worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence.  Oh, how I love these women!  They often were at a greater disadvantage because English was generally their second language, our court system was even more confusing to them than to most.  They had been lied to, told that no one would help them, or worse — that we would hurt them.  So, to be given the great privilege of working with these beautiful women was an honor to me.

I have seen tears stream down these women’s faces.  Pain and sorrow.  The privilege to say for them what they could not say.  To get to know their hearts.  To protect their secret pain.  To hold their hand.  To do battle for them.

An immigrant client had an appointment with DSHS.  Due to language barriers and general lack of understanding, the case worker kept insisting my client meet certain requirements.  My client, more than happy to do that but legally unable, could not find the words to explain her predicament.  The ability to step in and clearly convey this, not only helped them develop a better working relationship, but helped both of them reach their goals.

Another client, working with immigration, did not want to share her most painful story.  The torture of reliving the abuse.  The humiliation she had felt.  The gift of being able to stand for her and with her, gave her strength to get through those most painful moments.  She is thriving now!

Doug Bender goes onto write, “He helps. He guides. He remains. He is with us, whenever, wherever, forever.”  Wow.  What a tremendous gift we have been given.  A helper.  A guide.  Someone who NEVER leaves us or forsakes us.  Someone who fights for us.  No matter how ugly the attacker, how evil the force — He is there for us.  We have been richly blessed by this gift.  The only requirement — that we call God our God.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

I am Second Book Launch!!

Soooo exciting!!!

Today is the book launch for the new I Am Second book, Live Second 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.  If you want to buy the book — which I HIGHLY recommend, check it out here.

I also recommend signing up for the 22 Day Challenge.  You can find that here.

I will be posting four blog posts, plus a book review over the next week.  And on Friday, December 14, I will be interviewing the author, Doug Bender.

Lots of awesome, great, exciting things to look forward too.

And if you want to change your life, I suggest buying this book.  It’s incredible.